The Bluejay volleyball team used a 2-0 day in Saturday’s home-hosted WVC #2 to surge back into the Valley lead by a match over D.C. Everest, then swept Wausau East 3-0 on Tuesday night to guarantee at least a share of first place in the Valley heading into Thursday’s road match with last-place Wisconsin Rapids (1-10). A win over Rapids or an Everest defeat at Wausau West (3-8) would lock down the title.
Merrill – now 10-1 in the WVC — defeated the 2-10 Lumberjacks 25-19, 25-18, 25-14 in Tuesday’s Senior Night celebration.
“We are one step closer to our team goal of being the conference champions,” MHS coach Kris Krug said. “It was a good way to honor our seniors tonight with a victory.
“Although we had an opportunity to use some different line-ups, we need to keep our goals in sight and finish out the week with a win over Wisconsin Rapids and begin to prepare ourselves for the post season.”
Merrill grabbed an 11-5 lead in the opening set, but let East rally within 18-15 before taking charge, starting with a pair of Ali Zamzow aces. A quick-spike and service error let the Lumberjacks back in it at 21-18, but two East errors, an Emily Page ace and a Rylee Folz smash sealed it.
The Lumberjacks overcame a 4-0 start to grab an 11-8 lead in the second set, but the Jays ran off three straight then five consecutive, the latter run capped by three straight aces from Page. Katie Zelinski blocked and spiked back-to-back points to push it to 19-13. East hung around within 22-18, but a Hannah Marrier tip, and spikes from Folz and Mariah Turenne closed it out.
Merrill appeared to be taking total charge of the third set with an 8-0 start, but the Lumberjacks played pesky once again, pulling within 16-12 with a variety of spikes and MHS errors. The Jays took charge from there, with Morgan Marnholtz providing an ace and quick footwork to let a ball drop out of bounds and Folz, Anna Finnell and Morgan Wardall smashing home points to end it.
Back in the lead
Everest had tied the girls after winning Oct. 2, but the Evergeens (9-2) dropped a Saturday match to SPASH (7-4) while Merrill (9-1) topped both Point and Marshfield (7-4), the only other teams with a winning conference record.
The Jays bested SPASH 20-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-22, then cruised to a 25-21, 25-15, 25-12 triumph over the third-place Tigers.
“We practiced this week with the understanding that we can only control what we do – take care of business on our side of the net and it will all fall into place,” Krug said. “SPASH played DCE tough and beat them in three. This opened the door for us to take the lead in the conference if we won both of our matches.
“Our play was consistent all day, not allowing any large point runs against us.”
Coming through for the Jays were: Emily Page (12 kills, 63 assists, 28 d); Katie Zelinski (22 k, 2.5 bl, 12 d); Anna Finnell (21 kills, 6 digs); Maddix Bonnell (10 k, 35 d); Rylee Folz (12 k, 8 bl, 6 d); Morgan Wardall (11 k, 4.5 bl); Ali Zamzow (6 ac, 26 d); Morgan Marnholtz (3 ac, 26 d); Chey Pyka (12 d); Lindsay Casper (2 ac).
The Bluejays powered past West 25-13, 25-15, 25-16 at home last Thursday.
“It was a good night for our middle hitters with Rylee Folz having 10 kills and Morgan Wardall following close behind with nine kills,” Krug said. “Passing was the key to our offense with Morgan Marnholtz being ‘spot on’ with her passing. Maddix Bonnell led the back row in digs. We were able to run our offense and polish a few plays to get ready for a big day on Saturday.”
Profferings came from: Folz (10 k, 3.5 bl, 4 d); Page (33 assists); Wardall (9 k, 3 d); Finnell (7 k, 5 d); Zelinski (8 k); Bonnell (3 ac, 15 d); Zamzow (2 ac, 7 d); Marnholtz (8 d); Pyka (5 d); Mariah Turenne (3 k).
The Bluejays (25-7 overall) hosted 2-9 Wausau East on Tuesday and close the WVC slate at 1-9 Wis. Rapids on Thursday. The playoffs start next week and Wednesday’s seeding meeting will decide the match-ups.